CCPRG 15th October 2014

Present (9):BH, NH, MO, FS, TR, DB, SF, AK, EI

Presenting: Barnaby Hollington

  • Update on practice to date with a particular focus on his project with Sound and Music, “Velvet Revolution’ performed by the London Sinfonietta
  • Discussed the development of his compositional method and principles – significantly around the idea of how to make complex, ‘a-tonal’ or ‘post-tonal’ 12 tone music comprehensible. This involved a discussion of whether ‘a-tonal’ or ‘post-tonal’ are appropriate terms, as well as what some psychoacoustic research had suggested in terms of perception of pitch, melody and dissonance.
  • Explained the basic premise of polychords as well as setting out graphic systems for mapping dissonance and polychordal complexity
  • Gave an account of the development of the project in question, which started out as a spatial composition. It was found that, contrary to some previous research, spatial distribution of instruments led to a smaller tolerance of dissonance/harmonic complexity rather than making it easier to listen to/comprehend. Consequently the spatial composition was abandoned and a more standard composition was written instead – but still exploring the same harmonic/(a)tonal territory
  • Discussed the choice of title of the piece ‘Velvet Revolution’ and resonances with notions of ‘soft revolution’ and the achievement of change without aggressive confrontation.
  • Played the recording of the piece
  • The group discussed the concept of comprehension and its relationship to the experience of ‘art’ in the broader sense. This included links to visual, performance and video art as well as a discussion of whether music can be understood in the same way given its level of abstraction
  • Group also discussed the title and links to notions of revolution or Czech politics
  • Barnaby explained that a more in-depth technical musical explanation of the piece may offer further insights into how it deals with musical comprehension, but made clear that it was important to be able to engage with an interdisciplinary/non-specialist audience as well
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